MLS Saturday roundup: San Jose trips Seattle; RSL claims Rocky Mountain Cup

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LA Galaxy 3-1 Portland Timbers

Diego Valeri drew first blood, scoring on an early direct kick, but the Galaxy dominated play, with a great game plan that exploited the middle and right of the Timbers’ defense delivering LA’s second win in a row. Two goals from Robbie Keane give the Galaxy captain 12 on the season, while Gyasi Zardes is two short of double figures.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em-BaPAH09o]

Montréal Impact 0-2 Toronto FC

Michael Bradley and Dominic Oduro played a part in both goals, with Gilberto and Luke Moore helping the Reds move beyond Wednesday’s disappointment at D.C. United. The three points leave Toronto FC alone in second, while a Montréal team in the middle of a regroup turns its attention to Champions League.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUFpQgGzgUo]

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Despite going into half time up a man and a goal, New England left Red Bull Arena empty-handed, with a strong day from Dax McCarty helping the home side maintain 58 percent possession despite Matt Miazaga’s first half sending off. With goals from McCarty and Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York was one of two 10-man teams to earn full points on Saturday, a result that vaulted the Red Bulls back into the East’s top five.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAX-zkbW0q0]

Chicago Fire 1-1 Columbus Crew

Glaring mistakes from both teams accounted for the goals, with Tyson Wahl’s late first half handball offset by Patrick Ianni’s clumsy, failed clearance 10 seconds into the second. With goals from Mike Magee and Federico Higuaín, the teams shared points in Bridgeview, with Chicago relegated to its 13th draw of the season.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS1QT7pBhnU]

Colorado Rapids 0-1 Real Salt Lake

Marvell Wynne’s first half mistake allowed Chris Wingert to set up Javier Morales’s opener, a goal that turned into a winner when Nick Rimando kept his record-tying 112th career clean sheet. Along the way, Aaron Maund received his marching orders, leaving RSL to play a half down a man. Like the Red Bulls before them, RSL still turned 10 men into three points, enough to claim the Rocky Mountain Cup.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Seattle Sounders

In front of over 45,000 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the Earthquakes climbed out of the Western Conference cellar, with Yannick Djaló’s late first half goal holding up for the one-goal victory. Despite close calls for Gonzalo Pineda and Chad Barrett, Seattle was shutout for the second game in a row.

Report: Wenger ready to pay Ozil, Sanchez club record deals

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Arsenal knows its departure from the UEFA Champions League has to be a short one, and that keeping its two best attackers around is imperative.

That’s why Arsene Wenger is preparing to make Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez the top paid players in Arsenal history, according to a report from The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson.

The contract status of both players has been a touchy one this season, and Sanchez especially has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe (including London neighbors Chelsea).

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

But perhaps the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph over Chelsea has Ozil and Sanchez feeling good vibes about the Emirates Stadium set, and Arsenal is ready to pounce. According to the report:

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stays together and is supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Ozil is understood already to have been offered more than £250,000 a week and the club are ready to go to around £280,000 for both him and Sanchez.

The Gunners need both players healthy and happy heading into next season, and appropriate additions as well (A top striker is a must. Again). Wage structure is important, but Arsenal will have a blessing in disguise if another player can make a legit case he deserves to be paid like Ozil and Sanchez any time soon.

West Ham, Everton, and the superstar striker’s need for the Champions League

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Come up with a list of active elite level strikers, and it’s likely to be a short one filled with names from UEFA Champions League clubs.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Harry Kane, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rarely do names like these move to a non-UCL club while in their prime, and it’s just as uncommon to see them stay at clubs which have failed to qualify for the UCL.

The money, the prestige, the endorsements; All are amplified by the world stage. Given the massive import of their domestic stage and spotlight, Premier League sides have bucked this trend on occasion — see Romelu Lukaku — but it’s the exception to the rule.

That’s what puts an ambitious club like West Ham United between a rock and a hard place. The Irons have been vocal about their desires to bring in a top-end striker, and it’s likely they’d be happy to spend what it takes to attract Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang, or Cavani to town.

Lyon reportedly rejected a $45 million bid for Lacazette last season, admitting that ultimately the player’s desires would determine his future. Higuain, too, was linked to chairman David Gold’s wallet before moving to Juventus. Carlos Bacca also saw his future connected to the Irons.

Instead, Gold landed Andre Ayew from Swansea, and had to hope Andy Carroll could stay healthy or Enner Valencia would deliver. Not a striker, Dimitri Payet apparently decided to skip town soon after West Ham’s Europa League exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu.

Now it’s Kelechi Iheanacho being linked to the London Stadium, another hopeful swing from the Irons that points a strong finger at the problem: West Ham can be as ambitious as it likes, but it’s going to need a miracle to pull an elite striker to London without European football.

And it shouldn’t happen, but what if Everton is bumped from the UEL in the third qualifying round or playoff next year? Will Lukaku follow Payet’s lead and sink another team from joining the discussion? Though an argument can be made it’s better for Everton to lose those summer games, the Toffees very much need to succeed in the UEL qualifying and also show signs of strength in the early PL docket. That’s the unforgiving life of sitting on the outskirts of the powerful tier.

Every team at every level is searching for the next elite striker. Some, like West Ham, will need to luck into a young buck on the rise or a flawed striker finding his potential. And how do they hold onto that player, one who will have alerted the big boys to his arrival, without qualifying for Europe? It’s improbable.

The ability of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool to compete for a European slot in the PL standings thanks to missing out on the UCL the year before signals hope for clubs like Everton and West Ham. And five Premier League sides competing in the UCL this year could extend an invitation to stay longer in the Top Seven discussion for sides like Southampton and Leicester City, too.

So this summer’s striker captures are huge for Slaven Bilic and David Gold. This is a window the league’s “next group” won’t have open annually, and West Ham’s hopes of barging into the discussion again hinge on who shows up by August.

Toure reportedly set for another year with Man City

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Never say never.

Yaya Toure looks like his season-long peace with Pep Guardiola will stretch into a new season, with Toure’s combustible agent admitting talks with Manchester City regarding a new contract.

Dimitri Seluk is among the worst agents on Earth Toure’s agent, and said, “We are talking. We will see what happens but City is a club that is in Yaya’s heart.”

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

But Seluk has not been in City’s heart, having made numerous poor decisions on when to open his mouth, deepening a rift between Toure and Guardiola that kept the player off the pitch for some time. Earlier this Spring, Seluk also suggested that Toure could join Manchester United.

So, yeah, smart guy. Hates microphones and publicity.

Toure turned 34 this month, and became a fixture for Guardiola once he broke into the lineup. The midfielder made nine-straight starts around the turn of the calendar, scoring five goals in the Premier League.

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

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Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.